The Mersey family at Bignor Park care a great deal about the environment and encouraging wildlife. We have now converted over nine hundred acres of the estate to organic and four miles of new hedgerows have been planted.
With the help of a grant from Natural England, and the support and advice of the National Park Authority and Sussex Wildlife Trust, we have reverted over two hundred acres back to heathland and acid grassland (over the last hundred years thousands of acres of heathland have disappeared in England, representing a huge loss to the natural habitat of a wide range of species). It is now grazed by organic cattle and sheep in order to encourage a habitat for among others: ground-nesting birds, woodlarks, stone chats, Dartford warblers, insects such as digger wasps, minotaur beetles, tiger beetles, silver-studded blue butterflies and of course flora such as heather. We are proud to say that we now host more than a quarter of the entire UK population of gryllis campestris, the rare European Field Cricket.
We have also carried out a parkland restoration project, following a plan drawn up by Dr Phillip Masters of ACTA, whose CV includes the management plan for Avebury World Heritage site. The lake has been desilted and shallows created to encourage aquatic life, and a programme begun for managing copses and roundels, with over 150 new parkland trees planted. Chestnut coppice is encouraged where possible as part of a forestry programme managed by Andrew Wright of English Woodlands, with help from the Forestry Commission.
New projects include the creation of wetland habitats for lapwing (creating scrapes and encouraging winter lake areas) and the restoration of flower-rich meadows, with assistance from Arun and Rother Connections (ARC), RSPB and Sussex Wildlife Trust.
Bignor Park was recently awarded the Woodpecker Trophy for Conservation. And the task continues!
South Downs National Park
Sussex Wildlife Trust
Arun and Rother Connections
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